Latest large-scale reversal by DA Pat Lykos

February 14, 2012 3:09:58 AM PST
Harris County District Attorney Pat Lykos says she wants Texas Rangers to look into her office. We got the letter she wrote the Texas Department of Public Safety asking them to quickly investigate her activities with the grand jury. On Monday morning, she told her whole staff about it, but it came days after we reported the Rangers were already there.

On Monday morning, Lykos sent an email to all of her employees. In it, she says she invited the Texas Rangers to conduct an investigation and that inflammatory attacks are disrupting the orderly administration of justice. She asked the Rangers to look at investigatory misconduct inside her office on Friday, but last week we told you Rangers started asking their own questions.

When we reported it at the time, Lykos through her press office, said they knew nothing of it. It is the latest, but not the first, large-scale reversal from the DA.

Days after we reported the Rangers were already asking questions at the DA's office, she requested Rangers look at "allegations of investigatory misconduct by her office." She's talking about the inquiry into the private lives of grand jurors she first denied.

"I certainly didn't authorize an investigation," Lykos said on January 31, 2012.

One day before she admitted to it, a grand jury she claimed not to know much of.

"I don't know what you're talking about," she said.

Just days before she testified in front of them.

Which leads to the central question in this whole deal -- what did Lykos know about potentially faulty DWI test equipment when and what did she do with it?

"On July 27th and 28th, a technician from the Houston Police Department Crime Lab testified that there were problems with the BAT vans," Lykos told Eyewitness News on October 24, 2011.

She says that was the first she knew of a problem -- July 27, 2011.

Keep that date in mind as we travel further back in the DA's datebook for clues we uncovered, but she won't acknowledge.

In May 2010, an HPD email circulated talking about BAT van problems and "what these problems could do to pending court cases." Lykos says her office was never told about the memo.

That summer, DWI defense attorney Tyler Flood says the DA's office mysteriously started delaying BAT van cases. That was a year before Lykos publicly acknowledged the issue.

"It was an informal, off-the-record request of the judge that they be allowed to reset the case because (Assistant DA) Rachel Palmer was still looking into the BAT van investigation," said Flood.

Seven months later in March of 2011, 13 Undercover's Wayne Dolcefino questioned the reliability of BAT van breath tests.

Days later, a defense attorney reminded the DA of a duty to report problems with evidence. Emails show it took Lykos assistants just six minutes to decide there was nothing to report to defense attorneys.

In the meantime, Lykos assistant Rachel Palmer was told to investigate 13 Undercover's claims.

On April 26, 2011, Palmer wrote the DA, saying an HPD officer, "purposefully sabotaged the BAT vans out of jealousy of (another officer)."

Pat Lykos: I don't recall when I actually saw that memo, sir.
Ted Oberg: It was dated April 26th.

Lykos never did answer that question. And we don't know if Rachel Palmer did either. Remember, she's the one who took the Fifth in front of the grand jury.

Ted Oberg: Why did you take the Fifth?
Rachel Palmer: You know that's not an appropriate question.
Ted Oberg: Sure it is.

So in light of the reversal on the Rangers' investigation, and the reversal on her investigation of the grand jurors themselves, we asked Lykos a few weeks ago at a press conference if there is more she should've said about the BAT vans from the start.

"There should precision in language, and perhaps in the past, I haven't spoken with as much clarity as I should," Lykos said.

The Rangers are not the only group asking questions. We reported last week FBI agents were inside her office complex. A second grand jury with a special prosecutor continues to look at a time sheet issues inside Lykos' office. And two of her senior aides are still facing contempt of court allegations yet to be prosecuted by another special prosecutor.

You can see many of the documents researched for our report, along with a timeline of key events, by clicking here.


We've been covering the BAT vans and Harris County DA investigations for sometime. You can check them all out here.